Cabinet supports Simelane

Cabinet on Thursday said it had full confidence in controversial new National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane and took a swipe at “unfortunate” media reports criticising his appointment.

It welcomed Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s defence of Simelane’s appointment this week, when the minister rejected the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) call that he face disciplinary procedures.

“The timeous response and intervention by the minister of justice and constitutional development on the unfortunate media reports around the appointment of the director of the National Directorate of the Public Prosecutions (NDPP) was welcomed.

“Government wishes to reiterate its confidence in the NDPP to carry out his responsibilities,” the government said in a statement following the last Cabinet meeting of the year.

Simelane’s appointment met with an outcry from the opposition and legal fraternity, who questioned whether he was fit to hold the position.

Simelane was accused by the Ginwala inquiry into former prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli’s fitness to hold office, of interfering with the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

This stemmed from a letter he drafted in 2007, on behalf of then justice minister Brigitte Mabandla, in which Pikoli was advised to stop the arrest of then national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Former speaker Frene Ginwala slammed Simelane in her final report, calling him arrogant and condescending towards Pikoli. She labelled his evidence before the inquiry ‘contradictory and without basis in fact or in law” and blamed him for suppressing the disclosure of information.

Simelane’s conduct was ‘irregular” and Ginwala even suggested he might have contravened the NPA Act by drafting the letter to Pikoli.

But Radebe said the PSC’s failure to make a recommendation on the basis of Ginwala’s report without hearing evidence from Simelane was a fatal flaw, and had violated his rights.

The Mail & Guardian last week revealed that senior counsel Pat Ellis was to submit an official complaint against Simelane at a meeting of the Pretoria Bar council following Simelane’s controversial testimony before the Ginwala inquiry.

Ellis told the M&G last Thursday: ‘I will table a memorandum before the Pretoria Bar council on Tuesday and they will have to take it from there. The Bar council will then decide whether to investigate Simelane and if so, what form the investigation will take.”

Leading constitutional expert Pierre de Vos harshly criticised Zuma’s appointment of Simelane last week, saying that the president had acted ‘unlawfully because Simelane clearly does not meet the requirements for the job as stipulated by the NPA Act”.

The Constitution requires that the NDPP must be a ‘fit and proper person” with due regard to his ‘experience, conscientiousness and integrity to be entrusted with the responsibilities of the office concerned”.

De Vos wrote on his blog, Constitutionally Speaking: ‘Unfortunately, we know from the report of the Ginwala inquiry that Simelane is not honest.

‘Neither is he reliable, nor does he possess the necessary truthfulness and uprightness required by the [NPA] Act. His appointment is therefore not legally valid, as he does not meet the minimum requirements for the job.”

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